February 10, 2020

The pitch deck that got Smartcar $2 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz

Sahas Katta

CEO + Co-Founder

When Sanketh and I set out to raise our seed round for Smartcar, we found several pitch decks from consumer startups, however we struggled to find any from B2B or developer-focused companies. To give back to the startup community, we are making our original pitch deck (with a few retractions) that got us a $2 million seed round from Andreessen Horowitz available to everyone.

Sanketh and I set out to build an app for our car in 2014. Within a few weeks, we realized this was incredibly difficult to do. No car brand offered a self-service developer portal, API documentation, or SDKs. We discovered that developers faced a major pain point and we quickly shifted away from building an app to building a developer platform.

After we managed to get a prototype working, we put together a pitch deck over the course of a few weeks and ran through our slides with other founders and advisors for feedback. We soon had a set of slides which covered topics such as our problem statement, solution, and competitive landscape.

The deck

With the following deck, we successfully raised $2 million from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and officially started Smartcar in January 2015.

Introductory slide

Smartcar is an API for cars. Developers can incorporate Smartcar APIs into their own apps. Our technology works out of the box on most new cars without any retrofits or aftermarket hardware.

Problem statement 

While it is relatively easy and fast to build a web page or even a mobile app, it is nearly impossible to build an app for cars. Some companies I spoke with had spent years trying to integrate with a single car brand. No OEM provided a friendly self-service developer portal. Smartcar solves this problem.

The solution

The Smartcar API is compatible with any make or model meaning developers only need to integrate our API once to support any new car. This removes friction and lets developers focus on what they do best: building their business, not spending countless hours figuring out how to integrate with cars.

Our product

Smartcar prides itself in providing incredibly friendly API documentation rarely seen in the automotive world. Paired with SDKs for popular programming languages like Python or Node, developers can locate or even unlock the doors to a car with just a few lines of code.

Why now

While cellular connectivity built into vehicles is initially appearing within premium brands, nearly every OEM plans to equip all their new models with the same technology within the next few years. A new market is quickly emerging. We feel now is the right time to raise capital.  

Competition (company name redacted for confidentiality purposes)

While many companies have raised capital for connected car offerings, nearly all of their solutions depend on aftermarket hardware. Smartcar is differentiated because our technology works right out of the factory on most new vehicles. Additionally, we provide the most flexible offering since our product is an API.

Market size

We charge developers (aka businesses) a SaaS fee to use our API. Our product creates value in many verticals from auto insurance to car rentals.

Our team

Sanketh isn’t just my co-founder, he is also my brother. I have the role of the CEO while Sanketh is the CTO. We also have two advisors who are supporting our journey.

The ask

We worked backwards from our goal to determine where we wanted to be as a business in 24 months, how many people we would need to get there, and how much it would ultimately cost. After adding some room for error, we knew that we needed $2 million to make this happen.

Smartcar today 🚀

Since the seed round, we’ve also raised a $10 million Series A from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). We’re based in Mountain View, California and we serve customers in several verticals including auto insurance, car sharing, and EV managed charging. Our API is compatible with 21 car brands and offers a wide range of API endpoints including lock, unlock, location, odometer, fuel tank level, and EV battery level.

The past few years have been an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience. The Smartcar team is proud to continue empowering developers to build the future of mobility.

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in our job opportunities, feel free to check out the Smartcar careers page. If you are looking for any feedback on a pitch deck for your startup, don’t hesitate to reach out @sahaskatta.

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